February 22, 1980: 35 years ago one of the biggest upsets and most memorable moments in sports history took place in Lake Placid, New York. Sports Illustrated named the United State's upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics the "Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century".
The United States national team, made up of amateur and collegiate players and led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union national team, which had won the gold medal in six of the seven previous Olympic games. In fact the Soviet Union was so dominant that since its 1960 upset loss to the U.S. at Squaw Valley, the Soviet teams had gone 27–1–1 and outscored the opposition 175–44. It had also outscored the U.S. teams 28-7. Three players on that Russian team would be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The U.S. team surprised people with their physical play all tournament. After a 2-2 tie with powerhouse Sweden, they had a stunning 7–3 victory over Czechoslovakia, who were a favorite for the silver medal. The U.S. team had three more wins, beating Norway 5–1, Romania 7–2, and West Germany 4–2 to go 4–0–1 and advance to the medal round from its group, along with Sweden.
The game with the Soviet Union was a big deal because it came in the height of the Cold War, and the game was played on American soil.
It was 2-2 after the first period, and the Soviets held a 3-2 lead after two. After stunning the Soviets by taking a 4-3 lead with 10 minutes left, Team USA held off a ferocious attack by the Soviets and the miracle was complete. Al Michaels was calling the game and his commentary has become legendary: “11 seconds, you've got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!”
You can watch the full game here:
Or the final minute here:
People forget that the game wasn't the gold medal game. The U.S. had to then go on to rally to beat Finland 4-2 to secure the gold. USSR went on to win silver over Sweden.
Recently, Team USA got back together to relive the miracle.
Here's to you Team USA and the day you pulled off one of the biggest miracles in sports history.